The holidays..

12/14/03 .. 1/3/04

Ta-da! Blue bottom!

Its been a tough slog getting to the point of handing this job off to the boatyard boys. Our agreement was that I would prep as much as possible. Then, when time ran out or I ran out of stuff I could do, they would take over, finish up and spray the bottom.

Why am I doing all this? Believe me, I've been asking myself that for quite awhile, sanding away under here. Sure, a big part of it is the fact that I can't afford to just cut cheques for the work. But, I now know what the real reason is: I don't like other people working on my boat. It drives me nuts knowing that someone is working on my boat and I'm not there to watch their every move. Lord! I must be the biggest pain as a customer!

So far, I'm really happy with the yard work. For example; there was this resin blob somebody smeared on the side of hull. It happened some time ago while it was still in storage. The boatyard boys were able to clean it off to the point that, I can't even find where it used to be anymore. Cool!

As of this writing, the bottom has the first of two coats of paint on it. Of course it started raining again, putting the skids on everything.


But hey! Just look at that keel! Smoother than a babies behind! And, its completely encased in epoxy! So, maybe it'll last a while this time?

Well, actually, it ain't all that perfect. The bottom paint hides a lot. But I think it'll be "good enough". I could have easily spent another month filling and block sanding and then still not felt that it was perfect.

Will it work? We'll see..


Here's near the end of my time working on the bottom. Its hard to see but if you look close, the nose of the boat is darker than the tail. The dark half is where I've scrubbed off the old first layer of bottom paint. A bucket of soapy water, scotchbrite pad and have at it.

It was pouring down rain but it had to get done. This was one of the more awful days. I didn't dare stop working 'cause, if I did, I would have froze. Soaked to the skin with blue goo and rain. Yuch! Made it about 3/4 of the way around the boat before my arms gave out and I finally called it a day. Gettin' old.

Couple days later, between Christmas parties, we all came back and I finished up the scrubbing job. Then there was the sanding with 120 grit. The sanding went pretty fast compared to the scrubbing. Really dusty job that was. About 3/4 of the way around something started going wrong..

I begin coughing. "I must be coming down with something.." Then I begin feeling kinda' odd. Odd in a bad way. Like my immune system was starting to fire up. About this time one of the boatyard ladies stopped over to ask something about keys. She took one look and told me to stop working on the boat.

"I can't stop, I'm almost finished! Cough cough!"

"No, you gotta' stop! You look terrible."

"No, Cough, I.. Err.. Cough!"

Then I thought to myself; "Do I really need to finish this bit? The boatyard boys could handle the sanding in their sleep." And.. "Man! I feel terrible." She was still tellin' me, in no uncertain terms, that she thought I was being really dumb, when I looked into my painting mask. "Oh no!" The mask had been leaking! I'd been breathing this blue black bottom paint dust. I looked up from my mask at her; "You know" I said "I think your right." I put away the sander and walked up to the bathroom to clean up a bit before going home. Looking in the mirror was a shock! It looked like someone had dipped me, head first, into a vat of tar. No wonder I felt like death. Scrubbed most of it off, cold water only. Burr! Then Julie drove us all home. Once home I took a loooong shower. And that felt great!

Now, I'm the first to admit that I have a way over active imagination. Maybe it was all in my head? But, for about an hour after I'd gotten all that gunk off, I was really sensitive to sounds and my heart felt all skittery. By the time we got home I was feeling ok. But for awhile there, I was really wondering what I'd done to myself.

With the bottom job out of my hands I found myself suddenly at a loss. Once you knock down the big scary mountain, your suddenly faced with all these little hills. Which one do you pick to tackle next?

The tiller, delaminating and basically looking horrid.

All the deck hardware is showing signs of age and neglect. Plastic is getting real faded and brittle. The wooden bits are drying out, cracking and breaking apart.

J/35s have running backs. At about 6 feet above the deck they switch from cable to rope. The rope has deteriorated to the point that its almost dust. You can rub through the outer sheath with your thumb.


The Propane system...

Actually, the propane system turned to dust only about a year or two after the boat was built. Maybe I should have worked at getting it replaced under warranty from J-Boats? Kinda' tough to try that now though huh? I lagged on that one.


Of course the engine kill cable is, yet again, rusted up solid.

The control panel isn't as bad as I feared. The Tach. is flaking away into a lump of rust. The hold down nut things are dissolving. Some of the plastic bits are cracking.. You can see the inside half of the ignition switch hanging down there on the left. But the wiring looks ok. So far..

For some reason the batteries have suddenly gone dead. This is really odd 'cause they were alive for years sitting in the yard. When I started working on the keel, they were still charged enough to run the bilge pump. They are now down to 2.5 Volts and the charger doesn't seem to want to work. Odd, odd, odd..

There is also this thing on the back of the alternator that, I think, was a diode. Its now broken in half. All shiny, like it was broken real recently..

Total and complete mystery..

Getting the engine running would seem to be the next logical project to tackle. So, we'd better have a look inside the fuel tank.

Undoing the screws for the inspection cover, I promptly drop one down past the tank. Lord! (See arrow) They don't look like anything standard to me. Where could it have gone?

Each screw has a little stalactite of rust on its tip where it hangs into the tank. I doubt that's a good sign. The gasket on the cover tears to bits when I pull the plate up. And this brings yet another problem to light. The gasket has, at one time, been bedded in some sort of gasket shellac. It kinda' makes a bead on the outside and horror of horrors made a bead on the inside as well. This bead is now all crispy and crumbly. Any rough handling (waves perhaps?) and pieces of it break off dropping into the fuel. The black chunks to the right of the picture are the bits I was able to knock off into my hand.

So far I need a gasket, a new screw for the cover and the tank needs to be cleaned out 'cause you can see some of the shellac bits down in there. Does the gauge work? Donno', I can't tell yet. One good thing is that the tank does not look rusty inside. Maybe I'm going to be lucky on that count?

By this time, being weary, I sat down and looked around. Everything is filthy. The starboard chain plate has been leaking and there is a river of rust running down it. Well, make that both chain plates.. The ceiling trim piece above the starboard quarter berth has fallen down. (You bash through 10,000 sea miles with no problems. Then, sitting in a boatyard, for no apparent reason, the ceiling trim just decides to fall off! Go figure!) The engine compartment ventilation system is shot. It seems they don't make the 3" deck plates anymore. Where am I going to find a dorade vent that fits this? Looking around inside the boat, there is nothing that is in good shape! Head in hands I wonder to myself; "What am I going to do? I won't live long enough to get all this back together."

Then it hits me; "What am I thinking? I'm sitting here feeling all sorry for myself because its going to be tough to get my yacht back in working order!?! That is completely absurd!" Suddenly I feel really stupid. "Stop whining and get to work!"

Ok, back to work..

Checked the engine oil and it was black. This is good 'cause if there was water in the engine, it would be gray. The crank turns freely by hand a little bit back and forth. So its not frozen up.

The kill cable's been removed.. In pieces. The word has already been put out for getting a replacement.

I have to wait 'till Monday to start research on how to deal with the fuel tank.

The broken ignition switch needs to be resolved in some way. I've located some waterproof toggle switches, or I may just break down and purchase a new key switch.

Oh! Talked to Glen of Hansen Rigging. They are located next to the boat yard. He's going to come out and check the rig over. But.. There's always a "but" isn't there? He can't check the rig until the boat is launched. So, that passle of good/bad news has to wait for a bit.

Hey Look! I'm in better shape than this guy!

A fine specimen of a ten year old cockroach fossil. Discovered in the starboard quarter berth while climbing abut checking stuff back there.

Remember, we took this boat to Mexico and the south pacific. I could tell horror stories about the cockroach wars that took place inside this craft. Nothing you can buy works. So don't waste your cash. The only thing that really seems to knock 'em out is cold. The little buggers just can not stand cold weather. The first winter that we didn't live on the boat wiped them out. To this day I'll still find the occasional dead one here and there. Ain't seen a live one since the winter of '94.

Holiday wrapup..

A passle of cruiser/live aboard electrical equipment.

I was able to get a charge into the batteries and try most of the different electronic systems. Everything I checked worked fine. Refrigeration, Stereo, lights, Radio. The depth sounder gave a nice beep sound, like it does when it fires up. The parts to fix the alternator arrived, but haven't installed them yet. Will the batteries actually be able to start the engine? I donno'. But at least they took some charge.

As always, we'll see...

The fuel tank is all buttoned up. Getting gasket material for the inspection plate was an unbelievable headache. West Marine didn't have any. Svendsen's didn't and told me that Lee Auto Parts carried it. Lee Auto Parts didn't carry anything suitable. Then they said that they keep getting boat people showing up there looking for it.

"Well, Svendsen's sent me here, said you carried it."

"Hmph! Well I keep tellin' them I don't! Try Sea Power."

Sea Power didn't have any. They said to try Lee Auto Parts.


Finally went to NAPA Auto Parts here in Morgan Hill. They had the stuff, knew all about it. Kinda' a thick rubbery gasket material for water pumps and fuel oil. Looked like just the ticket.

Trying to remember how to do splicing on double braided line. Splicing takes me forever and a day! What you see here is the new running backs being made up.

Finally made a decision on the mast. Stop hoping that its ok and just have it pulled. Then we can go over the entire thing and know its ok or not.

Funny about that. After the decision was made to pull the mast, Glen from Hansen Rigging showed up. He was doing a job about three boats down. We had a talk about the rig. He seemed to think that pulling it was the right move. Seeing how many miles it has with about zero maintenance. So, in that light, I've stripped all the running rigging, removed the boom and pulled the wires to the mast. As far as I can tell, its ready to pull.

Removing the mainsail I ran into not one but two yellow jacket/wasp nests!! Yikes! Nothing like reaching out to pull on the sail and realizing that your just about to put your hand into a mass of wasps! I was extremely lucky that this was done on a cold day. They were crawling around trying to sting me, reallllly sloooowly.

The holiday rush is over. Where does the project sit now?

It looks like the Ol' girl is going to be launched this Monday! Yay! A couple weeks ago I was thinking I'd never get this machine in the water. Granted it won't have a mast. But at least it will be in the water again.

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